Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August Secret Agent #25

TITLE: The Haunting of Elle Castle
GENRE: MG Mystery

My soggy cereal looked more like paper mache paste after I’d stirred it about three billion times, trying to figure out how Grandmere, my beloved and funny Grandmere, could be in a coma.

“I’m going to book a flight to Paris, right now,” Mom said, pouring more coffee into her white mug. “I hate being so far away when she’s sick like this.”

We live in Washington State, which might as well be planet Neptune; we’re that far away from Grandmere. She lives in a tiny village in the south of France where our family vineyard has produced grapes for five generations. I go to visit every summer.

“Don’t the doctors know why Grandmere is sick?” I rubbed my eyes with my hands trying to wake them up after the worst night of no sleep.Mom stopped mid-sip. “What were those noises in your room last night?”

I took my bowl to the sink. This was definitely not the time to tell mom about my strange new talent.

“I have to see Grandmere, I said.”

“Elle, you’ve got school and what about the talent show you’re so excited about?”

“Talent show, smellent-show. I don’t have anything to do in the show, anyway.”

“You could read a poem,” Mom said. “And stay with the Winston’s while I’m gone. It’s not going to be like our summer trips to France, Elle.”

“I know that. And nobody reads poem’s anymore, Mom.”

“Sure they do. Don’t they? Well, I do.”


  1. I have to say, I'm a huge fan of the cereal/paper mache metaphor at the beginning. Awesome.

  2. We need to know more about Elle before being able to connect with her sorrow, I think. What is her strange new talent? Can we start with that maybe? I like the cereal/paper mache part too.

  3. Does Elle get to go to France, or does the haunting take place at home while her mother is gone?

    Watch your dialog. It looks like you've got two people talking in one paragraph, and the line "I have to see..." looks like it's got its tag inside its quotes.

  4. I liked the paper mache cereal as well. I also like the pairing of the talent show and the hidden talent. That's good.
    I'm not sure about the term Grandmere. That may just be my ignorance though.

  5. Gradmere is a very very formal term in French. The close relationship she has with the woman would seem to begthat she use the familiar term of Meme.
    As it is written, it seems like the author wants to make a French connection but it does not come across. She also shows respect for an absent grandmother (whom I assume she has gleaned some life lessons from) yet totally bags her mother - because no one reads anymore (especially poetry) - how much you wanna bet that a REAl grandmere from France would instill a love of literature? But, throough an American YA prism, all we get is an old lady who I bet is skateborading at 80? This is dreadful writing. One cannot respect a grandmother and in the same breath dismiss her mom.

  6. I liked the opening paper-mache comment and was immediately present at the scene. I think that you could spend some time on the dialogue which seems a little stiff to me eg. "I hate being so far away when she's sick like this." Let your narrative do some of the showing rather than trying to give to much information in the dialogue. Best of luck!

  7. I didn't think the opening worked. The cereal/paper mache comment is on the humorous side, and GM being in a coma is not, so it seems she's making light of the situation, so perhaps save that simile for later.

    Parg 2 - Mom is going to book a flight to Paris right now, and then doesn't do it.

    Cut parg 3. You're writing in past tense. The readers are not part of your story, so you shouldn't be talking to them. PLus, the story comes to a standstill why you say - Oh, by the way . . .

    Parg 4 should be two pargs. New speakers always get there own parg.

    Parg 5-6 should be one parg.

    The bit about the talent show doesn't waork, I think. Mom says the MC is so excited about it, but the MC hasn't even chosen to be in it, and she's fighting to avoid it here, and if they think GM might die, wouldn't that be more important than attending a talent show?

    If the story is going to take place in France, perhaps start with them just arriving there, or maybe even at the castle itself.